What If There Is No Next Big Thing for California?

From its founding, California has been a special place, especially its ability to grow and foster new companies and industries that lead the world in their respective fields. Much of this has been driven by the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation that found a unique home here.

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Of course, the first “Big Thing” for California was the Gold Rush of 1849, attracting risk takers willing to cross two thousand miles of hostile territory with no guarantee of survival, let along success. Following closely behind the prospectors were the blacksmiths, shop keepers, farmers and cattlemen to serve the exploding population.

Once fully industrialized, California maintained its reputation as the place where innovation could fully flourish. But companies and industries have a predictable life cycle and are never static. They start small, and then grow exponentially, after which they mature and stabilize. The growth period, of course, is the most dynamic. That’s when the innovators themselves and ultimately their stockholders make substantial profits and employees grow in number and income.

For the last 60 years, California has always had an industry or two in that growth cycle. First it was the oil companies and the Hollywood studios. Aerospace came next, then the first round of technology companies like Hewlett Packard, Intel and Cisco. As they matured around 20 years ago, along came the current wave of tech companies like Google and Apple to surge past them.

In serial order, one new industry after another grew up in California just as the prior wave had crested and was settling into maturity. This trend has not just benefitted the economy and employment. These industries have powered the revenue to the state for decades. The rapidly growing companies have provided a lot of people with very high incomes from stock, stock options and incentive-based employment. Because California’s revenue is so dependent on high-income earners, the recent budget surpluses have largely been driven by these enormous tech incomes.

But now, the current wave of tech companies is maturing. Layoffs at Facebook and Twitter and Salesforce are ongoing. The median income at Facebook is reportedly $394,000, which has meant lots of tax revenue for the state. Some political leaders suggest that we shouldn’t worry about the California economy and assume that there will be another big industry to grow up here to fill that hole in the budget.

But what if that doesn’t happen this time?

What if there is no next wave to replace the maturing Google and Apple? The promising industries of ride sharing and food delivery are struggling, as is autonomous driving. Maybe something like ChatGPT is coming, but there are no assurances there, either.

While there will almost certainly be some “next big thing”, we can no longer be certain that that “thing” will be California-based. Despite high taxes, high cost of everything and onerous regulations, the educated and tech savvy workforce has kept many companies here. However, now those people can be hired remotely by a business in Arizona. Or, whereas once a Californian didn’t want to move out of state, now moving the family to Florida may not look so bad. That spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation that was such a part of California’s culture is eroding at the same time other places are finding their footing with creative growth.

The good news is that this future is avoidable. That culture of entrepreneurship still exists. Innovation and enterprise can still be found and grow here. It may be trite to say, but it only needs a government that will get out of its way rather than suppress its dreams. Yes, it means less regulation and lower taxes. But it also means a government focused on empowering those who produce in order to ensure that there is revenue for public services as well as providing a reasonable safety net for those in need. It may also mean more emphasis on the present local economic climate than the global climate changes estimated in the future. Remember when we had the best schools and police forces in the country? We do. It wasn’t that long ago.

Click here to read the full article in the Los Angeles Daily News


  1. The next “big thing” is the planned destruction of California…it’s actually the “current thing”

    We’re being run by a mob just like the Chicago mobs of the ’30’s but on a global scale

  2. Correct, and you can include the whole country.

  3. Sad…and pretty scary!

  4. The next big thing is population that the land and taxpayers cannot afford.

    I challenge anyone to find in the State Constitution where it gave the State the right to force housing on communities.

    The next big thing is population that will maintain the welfare state and idiot Dem’s in power.

  5. Californians are in the petri dish of a socialist stew. We are ignoring history while the Pied Pipers in Sacramento over tax, over regulate and over enforce there Marxist doctrine. “When over 50 % of the population votes for the people that will give them the largest share of the public coffers, democracy is doomed”. Read up on Argentina, it really is a precursor to the Newsom era.
    We are there and it will take a major disaster (like running out of money) to turn the ship around.

  6. It will take getting rid of votet machines and going to paper ballots along with terminating propaganda in the US.
    Ckean elections and citizen candidates that follow the constitution.

    The hour is very late while we sit by our TV and watch our iwn destruction with our iwn tax dollars.


  7. Richard Wahl says

    Humans have learned little to nothing in thousands of years. The first European settlers on the East coast, tried a full blown socialist experiment. It last one or two years and then collapsed. The basic nature of humans prevets socialism from succeeding and that will never change.

    Let it all collapse. MAYBE it will start over correctly. Then after a period of time, the day dreamers will destroy it again.

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